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Johnson v. Daugaard

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

March 22, 2018

DENNIS DAUGAARD, Governor of South Dakota, in his private and public capacity; DENNY KAEMINGK, Secretary of Corrections, in his private and public capacity; ROBERT DOOLEY, Chief Warden, in his private and public capacity; NANCY CHRISTENSEN, Unit Manager, in her private and public capacity; ALEJANDRO REYES, Associate Warden, in his private and public capacity; ROB CARUAHA, ADA Coordinator, in his private and public capacity; and MISTY JOHNSON, Clinical Supervisor, Mike Durfee State Prison Medical Services, in her private and public capacity; Defendants.


          Lawrence L. Piersol United States District Judge


         Plaintiff, Leslie Johnson, is an inmate at the Mike Durfee State Prison (MDSP) in Springfield, South Dakota. On March 30, 2017, Johnson filed a pro se motion for temporary restraining order and motion for preliminary injunction. Docket 1. On June 16, 2017, Johnson filed a complaint alleging several violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Docket 9. Johnson also moves for a court order to copy and preserve video footage. Docket 13.


         Johnson's complaint generally concerns his disabilities and the defendants' alleged failure to accommodate those disabilities. Docket 9. He alleges that he is confined to a wheelchair due to several medical conditions restricting his mobility and that he has COPD that prevents him from being around humidity. Id. at 2.

         Johnson alleges that defendants fail to provide him access to religious services. When Johnson tries to attend religious services, he must sit in the rain, snow, or sub-zero conditions while other inmates are counted. Id. at 2. If the service is held upstairs, he is unable to attend because the chair lift routinely fail because it is faulty. Id. at 4. Johnson alleges that the sidewalks are regularly obstructed due to construction projects and defendants fail to provide alternative routes. Id.

         There are several aspects of the MDSP that Johnson alleges are not ADA compliant. Johnson alleges that the urinal in the general population bathroom is not ADA complaint despite a recent remodel. Id. at 4. During this remodel, Johnson alleges that defendants refused to provide an accessible route through a hallway. Id. at 6. Johnson alleges that two fifty-five gallon trash cans and a shower chair obstructed the sixty-inch-wide hallway. Id. Johnson alleges that defendants cause him further "undue stress and harm ... by placing a rubber mat in front of the ICE/Hot water machine." Id. at 5. Smith alleges that defendants could "apply a tape type anti-slipper application to avoid the slippery spots, and still allow easy access to the machine by [Johnson]." Instead, defendants allegedly placed a rubber mat to comply with the ADA. Id. Finally, Johnson alleges that defendants refuse to provide ADA compliant phone cords or to provide him an ADA compliant desk or writing table. Id. at 7.

         Johnson alleges that defendants retaliated against Johnson when he filed ADA complaints. Id. at 3. In one instance of retaliation, defendants ordered the removal of protruding items in the handicap bathroom. But Johnson alleges that only three of the twenty-three objects were removed and those items included the shelves used to place clothing on during a shower, coat hooks, and two circulation fans. Id. The fans were replaced with "a fake" exhaust fan. Id. at 5. According to Johnson, "It (fan) exhausts no where, except between the two walls. It does nothing to eliminate the excessive humidity in the bathroom/shower." Id. In a second instance of retaliation, Johnson alleges that unit staff claimed Johnson "was not handicap enough to use the regular Handicap toilet, sink, mirror and anything else in the regular handicap bathroom. She claims he is only entitled to use the Handicap shower." In a third instance, Johnson alleges that he suffered a verbal attack from defendant Rob Caruaha on February 23, 2017. Id. at 6. Johnson alleges that Caruaha, after he finished yelling, said "stop filing grievances." Docket 9-15 at 2. Finally, Johnson alleges that staff has encouraged other inmates to retaliate against him. Id. at 2.


         .The court must accept the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Schriener v. Quicken Loans, Inc., 114 F.3d 442, 444 (8th Cir. 2014). Civil rights and pro se complaints must be liberally construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citation omitted); Bediako v. Stein Mart, Inc., 354 F.3d 835, 839 (8th Cir. 2004). Even with this construction, "a pro se complaint must contain specific facts supporting its conclusions." Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985); Ellis v. City of Minneapolis, 518 Fed.Appx. 502, 504 (8th Cir. 2013). Civil rights complaints cannot be merely conclusory. Davis v. Hall, 992 F.2d 151, 152 (8th Cir. 1993); Parker v. Porter, 221 Fed.Appx. 481, 482 (8th Cir. 2007).

         A complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations ... [but] requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "If a plaintiff cannot make the requisite showing, dismissal is appropriate." Abdullah v. Minnesota, 261 Fed.Appx. 926, 927 (8th Cir. 2008); Beavers v. Lockhart, 755 F.2d 657, 663 (8th Cir. 1985). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court must screen prisoner complaints and dismiss them if they are "(1) frivolous, malicious, or fail[] to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seek[] monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).


         I. Screening Pursuant to § 1915A

         A. Unmentioned Defendants

         Johnson named Dennis Daugaard and Misty Johnson as defendants. He does not, however, plead any facts showing that these defendants had any involvement in the alleged ADA violations. Additionally, these defendants' names do not appear in any of the numerous exhibits filed by Johnson. Thus, Johnson fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted as to these ...

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